Black Friday poses moral and economic threat

The shoppers are at it again. This year’s Black Friday weekend surpassed last year’s record-breaking retail revenue of $52.4 billion, with Reuters recording $1 billion in online sales the first day alone. According to the Los Angeles Times, 247 million shoppers spent a total of $59.1 billion just this weekend—yet another record.

As great as these statistics look for the business world, people are missing a glaring eyesore in the bigger picture. The implications of a society increasingly obsessed with materialism outweigh the advantages of humongous sales figures, including the economic benefits.

As Black Friday continues to break records year after year, the irony of the sales event has never been thicker. As soon as Thanksgiving is over, Americans across the nation abandon the blessings they’ve counted for more, more, more?

Indeed, according to the Times, holiday spending accounts for about 40 percent of annual retail sales. Black Friday enthusiasts call this “economic patriotism,” but the statistics also represent hype for spending just for the sake of spending, which is an unhealthy practice no matter how you look at it.

The willingness of Americans to spend on this particular weekend reveals an insatiable materialistic drive so powerful that the true holiday spirit—of giving and being thankful for what we have—gets lost under the gift wrap.

From a fiscal standpoint, excessive consumerism encourages people to spend money they don’t have—part of the reason we got into the recent economic crisis in the first place. Black Friday also encourages waste. This time of year, businesses are particularly savvy at luring the consumer into buying products they don’t need and won’t use for the thrill of securing a good deal.

The madness isn’t over yet. After days of stuffing themselves with turkey and pie, an estimated 129.2 million shoppers will continue to venture online for fresh discounts this week, according to the Times. The lure may be great, but if holiday goodness isn’t enough to dissuade you, think of next year and the looming fiscal cliff that will still be here.